Rich Phillips Interviewed in Law360 on Texas Cases to Watch

“Texas Cases To Watch In 2015”

Challenges to the oil and gas industry that could affect fracking laws in the state, cases testing the reach of governmental immunity and a ruling on a state anti-SLAPP statute are all on the radar for Texas lawyers in the new year.

Here are some of the important cases Texas attorneys will be keeping an eye on in 2015.

Environmental Processing Systems LC v. FPL Farming Ltd.

It made our 2014 list of cases to watch, but the Texas justices are still looking at a high-profile dispute between FPL Farming and Environmental Processing Systems that could have serious consequences for the energy industry.

The question is whether wastewater from an EPS well finding its way to a subterranean pool underneath FPL Farming’s land constituted trespassing.

A jury ruled in favor of EPS, but the Ninth District Court of Appeals threw out the verdict, finding that FPL had shown sufficient evidence of trespass and ordering a new trial. The high court heard oral arguments on Jan. 7, 2014.

The case could have far-reaching implications for the oil and gas industry, said Richard B. Phillips Jr., appellate and Supreme Court partner at Thompson & Knight LLP in Dallas.

“It may not apply to just nonhazardous wastewater, as we get into fracking and things like that,” Phillips said. “The concept of a trespass thousands of feet underground might have interesting impacts.”